The Blaine County Journal News-Opinion - We've Got The County Covered

Chinook High School Shelters in place


November 2, 2022

Chinook High School reported an incident involving a student making threat to law enforcement on Tuesday, October 25. In a statement released by Chinook City Police Chief Elmer Zarn it was stated that at 12:03 p.m. Deputy from the Blaine County Sheriff's Department as well as a Chinook City Police Officer responded to a report of a student having a gun at the school.

The officers were informed upon arrival that the student's locker had already been searched and that no gun was located. The statement further reads that Superintendent Hoffman informed the officers that a student had made statements to other students that he had a gun in his locker and that he was going to use it on himself during 6th period.

According to the report "Superintendent Hoffman and the Officers waited at the front entrance to the High School for the student to return from lunch break. The student never came back to the school after lunch. The decision to shelter In place was made at that time and the officers checked the school to make sure that the outside doors were secure. Officers then left the school to search for the student. Chinook Police were assisted by the Blaine County Sheriff's office and Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks wardens in searching the area. A couple of homes were identified as places he may have been hiding and with the owner's permission those places were checked out."

The student was not located throughout the remainder of the school day and at approximately 3:00 pm Officers were positioned at both the High School and Meadowlark Elementary to oversee school dismissal. At that point the statement says, "A report came in that the student may have been spotted in an alley and officers were dispatched to that area while others stayed at the schools. As the students were exiting the High School the student that was being sought was spotted across the street. An officer responded and the student turned himself into law enforcement."

Chief Zarn stated, "At no time was a weapon located in the school or on the suspected student. The school staff did an excellent Job of securing the school and protecting the other students without going into a full lock down. Upon further investigation it was determined that a student had warned the suspect that the police were looking for him. This student is now facing criminal charges of Obstructing Justice."

Superintendent Hoffman later commented, "We had a brave student contact the school counselor during lunch hour to tell the counselor that another student had threatened to harm himself with a firearm in that student's locker. A number of students subsequently corroborated the comments regarding a firearm. There was a great deal of concern for this student's safety by many of his peers." Hoffman added, "The situation took a little longer to resolve than we would have liked but we are thankful the matter ended up with everyone being safe. This was largely due to the actions of a brave student and a number of others who helped the school staff piece everything together.

Superintendent Hoffman credited policies in place for helping the school navigate through the situation, "It's nice to know our board adopted policies are there for situations like this, but I think the key in this situation was the student education by Mrs. Friede and the supportive efforts of the school staff for their ongoing efforts to address the mental health needs of our students."

Folks are also reminded that Blaine County, the City of Chinook along with the Chinook School District belong to an Emergency Notification System called Alert Sense. Alert Sense notifies individuals or businesses via voice, text, or email of emergencies in the area including school lock downs or sheltering in place. YOU need to sign up to receive these notices. The link to sign up is as follows: signup/?regionid =1315&fbclid= lwAR1bhdxowKc9_EccMfXNLeJybOoA_W39oOF73acXJsrZc52bh2-ax5E_SE


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